This week has been Fashion Revolution week. Across twitter, by postcard and letter, on instagram people have been taking photos of the label in their clothes, and asking the brands 'Who Made My Clothes?'. It's come from a response to the terrible tragedies in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, that I've blogged about in the past. But what do we expect to gain from this?
It's not actually about naming individual workers - that would be sweet, but probably score higher on gimmick levels than efficiency. It's about transparency. If the spokesperson for a brand can't start to answer then they're probably so far removed from the making of the clothing that they don't even know what country the clothes are made in. And they certainly have no idea what the conditions are like in the factories. And everything we know about the garment industry suggest that if you're not checking, then they're probably cutting corners, and those cut corners are wrecking people's lives.
So I drew some little doodles to explain why it matters, and what the differences are between the big brands that can't answer this simple question, and ethical brands like Lost Shapes.
Yeah, I'll stick with screen printing, but they make the point:
First, how the BIG BRANDS work:
And Lost Shapes:
And that's why Lost Shapes customers are so happy to say 'I Know Who Made My Clothes'!
NB. There are companies bigger than Lost Shapes that do it even more directly - established ethical pioneers like People Tree, who visit factories themselves and directly help development in the area, or small businesses who have built up from meeting artisans directly and importing their products. But we all share the same principles - our style should never be the expense of others.
Sometimes things just work together, and sometimes you can tell from the beginning that they're going to. So even though it was a busy December when Jamie from Glen Lyon Coffee phoned to ask about working on a t-shirt for them, and I don't often take on commissions, I caught enough of their vision from the conversation to come back to it after Christmas.
Glen Lyon are speciality coffee roasters based in the Scottish Highlands. One of the surprising similarities between clothing and coffee is transparency of supply - both are industries known for exploiting the people at the source of the product, but both offer the opportunity to rise above this. I love the fact that Glen Lyon know which farmer produced their beans, and they pay them premium prices. The coffee tastes really good too.
Keen explorers of the Highlands where they're based, they wanted a t-shirt to sell along with their coffees, featuring mountains and the John Muir quote 'The Mountains Are Calling' in the hand cut stencil style that they'd seen on other Lost Shapes designs. When we talked some more it felt important that it featured Schiehallion, a mountain not far from their roastery, so I studied images of this, and worked them into a sketch. Once approved and details perfected (I didn't share the version where I accidentally wrote the wrong phrase underneath...) I carefully cut it out of stencil film, and then printed onto gorgeous garment-dyed army green organic t-shirts - you can get a glimpse of the printing here on instagram.
The t-shirts are available from the Glen Lyon Coffee shop and online store only, and I suggest you get some good coffee while you're there.
Don't know much about John Muir? Jamie's journal this week gave me a real appetite to find out more about him, as well as explore the mountains he loved so much.
And finally, what reminded me I was going to blog about this project: Stravaiging Around Scotland shared this image to mark John Muir's birthday. Beer, coffee and t-shirts - now that is a nice combination.
Irregular musings and pretty pictures from the heart of LOST SHAPES.